“The settlements are established for the exclusive benefit of Israeli Jews; settlements are being maintained and developed through a system of total segregation between the settlers and the rest of the population.” This is the conclusion reached by the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHCR) in a report that slams Israel’s state-sanctioned settlement campaign.
In typical fashion, Israel accused the UNHCR of systemic bias towards the Jewish state and didn’t even bother showing up to the UN review of its human rights record, behavior that’s to be expected of a criminal government I suppose. And in even more typical fashion, the establishment press watered down the report’s findings and omitted or buried the most significant conclusions reached.
For example, the report reminds the world that Palestine, with its upgraded status at the UN, could take Israel to the International Criminal Court for what are considered war crimes under the Geneva Convention.
The Rome Statute establishes the International Criminal Court’s jurisdiction over the deportation or transfer, directly or indirectly, by the occupying Power of parts of its own population into the territory it occupies, or the deportation or transfer of all or parts of the population of the occupied territory within or outside this territory. Ratification of the Statute by Palestine may lead to accountability for gross violations of human rights law and serious violations of international humanitarian law and justice for victims.
This was the main reason Israel and the US tried so hard to prevent UN General Assembly from voting to recognize Palestine as a nonmember observer state last year.
Another major omission by most major outlets is the report’s shootout to the Boycott Divest Sanction movement. Okay, so it doesn’t actually acknowledge the BDS campaign, but the report does call for governments and corporations to consider economic sanctions against Israel over it’s continued settlement expansion.
The Mission calls upon all Member States to comply with their obligations under international law and to assume their responsibilities in their relationship to a State breaching peremptory norms of international law – specifically not to recognize an unlawful situation resulting from Israel’s violations.
Private companies must assess the human rights impact of their activities and take all necessary steps – including by terminating their business interests in the settlements – to ensure they are not adversely impacting the human rights of the Palestinian People in conformity with international law.
The Mission calls upon all Member States to take appropriate measures to ensure that business enterprises domiciled in their territory and/or under their jurisdiction, including those owned or controlled by them, that conduct activities in or related to the settlements respect human rights throughout their operations.”
The New York Times does mention the call for sanctions, but denies it’s an explicit call for sanctions. And for each criticism of Israeli policy quoted from the report, the Times quotes an unsubstantiated rebuke by an Israeli government official.
But even softening the reports findings can’t hide the fact that the UN Human Rights Council has labeled Israel an international law breaking war criminal. And that’s just based on the settlements, which have been a policy pursuit of the Israeli government since 1967. With 250 settlements now thriving in the West Bank and East Jerusalem—home to 520,000 settlers and countin—it’s hard for Israel not to look bad.
Still, I would argue that the report doesn’t go far enough. Instead of using more “controversial” (though accurate) terms, like “ethnic cleansing” and “state-sanctioned racism”, the report employs gentler euphemisms like “creeping annexation” and “institutionalized discrimination”. If this was any nation besides Israel, there’s no question that the language would be brutal.
Then again, this is the UN’s harshest criticism to date. The report highlights the daily violations of Palestinians, like their right to “self-determination, non-discrimination, freedom of movement, equality, due process, fair trial, not to be arbitrarily detained, liberty and security of person, freedom of expression, freedom to access places of worship, education, water, housing, adequate standard of living, property, access to natural resources and effective remedy,” as well as Israel’s continued “dispossession, evictions, demolitions and displacement” of Palestinians as a matter of policy. It also addresses Jewish violence against palestinians and the impunity with witch settlers operate under; the routine detainment and abuse of Palestinian children; and Israel’s obstructionism of Palestinian children’s access to education.
This is apartheid, pure and simple and anybody defending it is a modern-day segregationist.
Speaking of modern-day segregationists, here is what the Israeli Foreign Ministry had to say about the UNHRC findings: “Counterproductive measures – such as the report before us – will only hamper efforts to find a sustainable solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict. The human rights council has sadly distinguished itself by its systematically one-sided and biased approach towards Israel. This latest report is yet another unfortunate reminder of that.”
Yeah, it’s so messed up that the Human Rights Council commissioned a report on human rights abuses committed by an a colonizer.